Conservatives said J.Crew had an agenda last month, when an emailed ad featured President and Creative Director Jenna Lyons painting her son’s toenails pink . The company’s May 2011 catalog, featuring an image of “Our designer Somsack and his boyfriend, Micah,” proves it. J.Crew does have an agenda-to sell its clothing to the kind of people most likely to buy it. Young people. Women. People who went to college and who make more than $50,000 a year. The same people who are more likely to support gay marriage now, and to do so in increasing numbers in the coming years. LGBT acceptance is moving relatively rapidly. (Don’t miss this past weekend’s NYT article on how Atlanta law firm King & Spalding*-an old-school, white-shoe institution-has told the House of Representatives that it will not represent it in a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act .)
Getting out in front on this issue makes sound business sense (as companies like American Airlines and Subaru have discovered). The LGBT community has money to spend . I can’t find any specific figures on the buying power of the kind of people who are strongly enough opposed to gay rights to boycott J.Crew over an ad with a positive message-but I’ve seen pictures of the Westboro Baptists in action , and I can see why J.Crew isn’t too worried about losing their business.
But don’t let’s get so caught up in the practicalities that we forget to affirm that J.Crew is doing something pretty cool. In the words of Bob Witeck, CEO of a PR firm specializing in LGBT clients, “I’m loving it.”
* Correction, May 3, 2011 : Spalding was misspelled in the original version of this post.